Recently in my writing for multimedia class we have looked at Joseph Campbells – 12 stages of the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was an American writer,teacher and mythologist. He also was the creator of the term ‘monomyth’ which is also known as ‘the heroes journey’. Monomyth is a basic pattern found in all types of narrative functions such as video games and films. This worldwide term was first theorized in Campbells book ‘the hero with a thousand faces’. Today we can see how his theory has been applied to many narratives. After studying Campbells ’12 stages’ I have become aware of this theory in many of the films I have watched, the most recent and notable being ‘The house bunny’, although not your critically acclaimed hollywood hit, this romantic comedy directed by Fred Wolf most definiently follows Campbells 12 stages of the heroes journey.
The heroes journey according to Campbell begins with ‘the ordinary world’. We are brought into the heroes normal, everyday world before the story begins. Director Wolf introduces us to Shelly Darlington (played by Anna Farris) who tells us of her life ‘It all started 27 years ago, thats an orphanage, thats me in the basket, nobody wanted me, but they did want the basket back’. Shelley tells us directly about her previous ordinary world, in a simplistic yet humorous way.
Shelly is a bunny, a playboy bunny who is one of Heffs favorites. Her dream is to become the main centerfold for the next monthly magazine. Joesphs second step and third step is seen here. Both the heroes ‘ call to adventure’ and ‘refusal to the call’ is inevitablle. Shellys call to adventure is when she receives a letter from a fellow bunny insisting that Heff wants her to leave. Altough deeply saddened,hurt and indenial by the news she has no choice but to depart from her quirky home.
Campbells stage four ‘meeting the mentor’ is hard to identify within this movie. Shelly, after leaving the mansion is alone in the unkown world and is by herself, she learns to cope without a mentor. We are brought directly in stage five, where Shelly ‘crosses her first threshold’. She left her known world in the playboy mansion and has now entered into the dangerous realm with unknown rules and boundaries. She is now living in her car, and stopped by a cop. Although Shelly just sees him as ‘a man in uniform’, so when he asks her to ‘blow on the breathalizer’, being a previous playboy bunny, she mistakes this ‘man in uniform’ and does what she knows, which gets her put in jail overnight.
This overnight jail stay, brings Shelly to realise that she must learn the rules of this unknown, supernatural world. On doing this she enters into Campbells stage 6 where she meets her ‘allies and enemies’. Innocent Shelly is just looking for a place to stay when she runs into your typical ‘college plastics’. Upon this meeting Shelly is presented with her 1st test, in order for her to live on college campus she must be a ‘house mother’, She was told to ‘try the zeta house’ and that ‘their last house mother was hospitalized with hillusinations’.Shelly, delighted to have somewhere to stay, accepts the challenge. Campbells stage 7 ‘the approach to the inmost cave’ can now be seen for the next 20minutes or so of the film Shelly now the hero of the Zeta household, is bombarded with many obstacles and challenges. Zeta is on the verge of closing, and its upto Shelly to get 30 pledges from fellow students, although her main difficulty is the fact that the Zeta household is the most nerdy, unpopular household on campus.
Stage 8 now comes in, Shelly has an ‘ordeal/crisis’ to deal with. Using her knowledge of femininity and beauty she tries her best to make the Zeta girls the most beautiful popular girls on campus, makeovers, housepartys and shopping sprees are just a few of Shellys attempts.
Shelly is rewarded for her efforts , which is campbells stage 9 of the heroes hourney. She meets Oliver, a kind nurse who runs a day care centre for old people. Shelly after a whirlwind of adventure, is faced with one last dilemaa, she recieves a call from Heff, the head of the playboy mansion. Heff was devastated on Shellys depart, as he was unknown the the letter which told Shelly to leave. He asks Shelly to come back, and its a tough decision as she has learned so much from this Zeta journey. However Shelly takes all she has learned and reutruns to the playboy mansion, a more wiser and mature bunny. She returns to the mansion with Campbells twelevth ‘the elixir’.